Review of CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL by Max Allan Collins
A NATHAN HELLER NOVEL
New American Library, June 2002
Detective Nathan Heller knows better than to get involved in the Kefauver hearings on organized crime. He knows plenty--but the only way to stay alive is to keep what he knows under his hat. He tries to tell his friend Bill Drury the same thing, but Bill is intent on taking the Chicago Mafia down. When Drury gets killed in a Mafia hit, Heller knows he has to get involved--but how can he manage that without ending up as dead as Drury?
Author Max Allan Collins delivers a convincing account of Chicago during the 1950s. The American Mafia has begun its climb toward respectability, helped by the FBI's assurances that there is no organized crime in America. Chicago is controlled by a combination of its political machine and the mob, with dirty police more common than not.
Collins makes Heller acquainted with both major mob figures and with popular icons such as Frank Sinatra and Jayne Mansfield, giving the reader occasional brushes with the famous. What makes CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL powerful, however, is Heller's emotional strength as he battles between doing what is safe and what is right--in a Chicago-pragmatic way.
CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL is an enjoyable novel and Nathan Heller a convincing and sympathetic 'tough guy' hero.
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